40 over 40: Leaving corporate life behind, Nancy A. Shenker finds her niche

When she started a career in publishing in the late 1970s, New Yorker Nancy A. Shenker found it hard not to be envious of friends who were investment bankers. They were living in luxurious apartments while she was trudging up the steps of a walk-up infested with roaches and mice. So she answered an ad in The New York Times, landing a job at Citibank and then moving up the ladder at a series of major companies. Thinking she was finally living the dream in the C-suite, she was surprised that it wasn’t always fulfilling. “Rather than looking for another corporate job at 48,” says Shenker, “I jumped off the edge of a cliff and started my own consultancy firm.”

I try to work out three days a week and walk to and from work. Exercising gives me an extra adrenaline rush every day. When people say ‘You don’t look 60,’ I say, ‘This is what 60 should look like if you take care of your body.’

When Shenker founded theONswitch, a marketing and branding firm, her friends “thought I was nuts.” They told her that companies weren’t going to outsource their marketing departments, and if they did, it would be to well-established firms. But by focusing on smaller companies, she found her niche. “I grew big really fast,” she says. On top of running her own business, the 60-year-old WeWork 5th Avenue member wrote a cheeky book for women entering the workforce called Don’t Hook Up With the Dude in the Next Cube. Her latest venture is an online community for female entrepreneurs called sheBOOM, which she says will launch this fall.

Photos: Katelyn Perry

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